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Ontario woman mysteriously dies while volunteering in Tanzania

FILE PHOTO: Houses are seen at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania's Hie district December 10, 2009.

Katrina Manson/Reuters

An Ontario woman has died in unknown circumstances while volunteering to help children in the east African country of Tanzania.

Family friend Rev. Brian Goodings of Trinity United Church says Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Collingwood resident Susan Wells, 41, died on Wednesday.

He says Ms. Wells left the town, about 120 kilometres northwest of Toronto, for Tanzania last weekend on a month-long trip, carrying suitcases stuffed full of educational materials for children.

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Mr. Goodings says Foreign Affairs has told Ms. Wells' family that an autopsy has been performed in Tanzania as authorities there try to discover cause of death.

He says the department has informed the family her death was not due to misadventure.

Mr. Goodings says Ms. Wells was an experienced traveller who had gone on numerous trips abroad to help out charities, including five previous voyages to Tanzania, but added that Ms. Wells' family is devastated.

"They're just shocked. Shocked. It's been really horrible," Mr. Goodings said.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Ian Trites said in an e-mail that a Canadian has died in Tanzania and consulate officials in the city of Dar es Salaam are working with local authorities to gather more information.

The department advises travellers to exercise a "high degree of caution" while visiting Tanzania.

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